The Croatia men’s handball team met France in its first match in Group C at the European Championship, which is being held in Hungary and Slovakia. Coach Hrvoje Horvat led the team in Szeged, Hungary, where they had Croatian support from the stands.
Croatia entered this championship with many changes caused by the coronavirus. Luka Cindrić and Marino Marić did not play in tonight’s match as their negative COVID-19 tests did not arrive in time. They are expected to be ready against Serbia in two days.
Croatia started with Mandić and Čupić on the wings, Šipić as the pivot, Jaganjac on the left, Gadža in the center, and Martinović on the right. Pesic started in goal.
France scored the first goal to lead in the 50th second of the match. Martinovic scored Croatia’s first goal for 1:1 in the 2nd minute.
France led 1:3 in the 4th minute and it was 1:4 for France in the 5th. Mandic came back for 2:4 moments later. It was 2:5 for France in the 7th and 2:6 for France a minute later.
After Croatia’s missed opportunities, France led 2:7 in the 9th. Cupic finally scored for 3:7 Croatia in the 11th minute.
A brilliant save by Pesic in the 12th minute kept Croatia in the game. Gadza scored for 4:7 in the 15th minute.
It was 4:9 for France before Croatia made it 5:9 in the 19th. Pesic made an incredible save for a Croatia counter in the 20th for 6:9.
Cupic scored from 7-meters for 7:10 in the 22nd minute. Croatia picked up the momentum as the first half came to a close, taking advantage of France’s mistakes. Martinovic scored for 8:10 in the 23rd.
It was 8:12 for France with 4 minutes to go. Cupic scored from 7 meters again for -3 (9:12).
Mandic made it 10:12 with less than two minutes left in the first half. Sipic scored for 11:13 going into halftime.
France opened the second half with a goal in the 31st for 11:14, and it was 11:15 in the 32nd.
Sipic scored for 12:15 which was followed by a France penalty for 12:16. Martinovic scored for 13:16 in the 36th. Susnja scored for 14:17 a minute later.
Sipic scored for 15:18 in the 40th. Susnja scored his second goal for 16:19 in the 42nd. Cupic scored for 7 meters for 17:20 a minute later.
Lucin scored on a counter for -2 (18:20) and again for 19:21 in the 46th minute. Mandic was excluded with a red and blue card in the 46th minute which changed the dynamic of the game.
France scored from 7 meters for 19:22. Cupic scored from 7 meters for 20:23 with 7 minutes to go. Cupic scored again for 21:25 with 4 minutes on the clock.
Lucin made it 22:25 with two minutes left. The match ended 22:27 for France.
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